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Taking the Pressure Off

In a more traditional role, patients can often feel as though everything happens to them. With that mentality, blood pressure remains elevated, blood sugars stay high, and the healthcare provider is the only one that can do anything about it. This paternalistic approach to health removes any sense of the patient’s ability to change their life. Fortunately, there has been a shift to a self-directed model of care, one that empowers the patient to effect change of their own. At Waterfront Family Pharmacy, we have embraced this mentality of empowering patients through education.

This supportive role has served us well especially in medication delivery device education. One instance of this in particular comes to mind. A patient had been frustrated with their blood pressure management. She was taking her medications and making incremental changes to her eating habits to reflect a more hypertension-conscious lifestyle, yet her readings were always high. She arrived at the pharmacy to voice her concerns and discuss her next steps, and I was honored to serve as her pharmacist. We reviewed her medications and dietary efforts, and finally, we discussed her blood pressure monitoring. Fortunately, she brought her cuff and demonstrated its use for me. I was able to quickly determine that her cuff was too small, thus rendering her at home readings inaccurate. I recommended a new, appropriately-sized cuff, and her blood pressure, while not at goal, was much more encouraging for her efforts and progress.

As pharmacists, we are a heavily utilized resource. We provide drug expertise and disease state consultation. However, we should also be providing our patients with the tools and knowledge to take charge of their care where appropriate. Granting more autonomy and involvement in their treatment imbues our patients with a sense of control that can serve as a powerful motivator for change. As the self-directed model becomes increasingly present, the pharmacist must ask: what can I do to help my patients help themselves?

Written on behalf of CPESN West Virginia by Waterfront Family Pharmacy FtP champion, Connor Rowan, PharmD

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